Connor Ford is the one itch that Tabitha Girard has never been able to resist scratching. It begins during their teenage years when Connor and Tabitha have a summer romance while she works as his grandmother’s country club. Connor’s grandmother doesn’t approve of the pairing and soon finds a way to break the two up.
Years later, Connor wanders into the restaurant/bar where Tabitha is waitressing, and the two attempt to pick up where they left off. The only things standing in their way are Tabitha’s recently released from jail ex-husband and Connor’s wealthy wife, who are suspects that Connor is stepping out on her. Thanks to an iron-clad prenup, if Connor leaves his wife, he loses everything.
So, when Connor’s wife turns up drowned in her swimming pool after a summer party and Tabitha reveals she’s expecting Connor’s child, suspicions begin to mount. After quickly and quietly marrying Connor, Tabitha begins to suspect that her new husband may be keeping secrets from her — deadly secrets.
Michele Campbell’s The Wife Who Knew Too Much starts off with a solid hook and an intriguing premise. Sections of the novel are told from the third-person perspective of Connor’s wife and the first-person perspective of Tabitha. Each allows us to see different sides of Connor and begin to slowly make assumptions about him and what his possible motives are for each of the women in his life. The tension slowly builds as Tabitha discovers her pregnancy and keeps making decisions that could paint her in a negative light if viewed by outsiders.
And then, the wife drowns and things slowly begin to spiral out of control. Tabitha’s impulsive decisions in the first half of the book continue to haunt her. These are compounded by even more reckless and impulsive decisions, all of which Tabitha justifies to herself and the readers. However, there are moments in the second half of the story that Tabitha is portrayed as far too blinded by love for Connor or naive to not notice that maybe Connor doesn’t have her best interests at heart. The sheer number of times she writes off his moodiness as relating to various business deals starts to become wearisome.
It all leads to a series of twists and turns in the novel’s final quarter that aren’t earned. Part of this is that beyond Tabitha, everyone (including Connor) is a one-dimensional character, there to simply fulfill whatever the plot requires of him or her at that moment in the story. And once we get to the revelations of who killed who and why the story had completely unraveled and I found myself reading less out of any burning desire to find out why did it and why so much as to see how much more ludicrous the story could get (SPOILER alert — it gets ludicrous by the time we get to the final page).
Part of this is that Campbell has Connor waiver back and forth between manipulative jerk, caring husband/lover, and dark, potential killer. We never quite get a consistent characterization for him, which detracts from the central mystery and the novel as a whole.
Maybe I’m overthinking it a lot here. Perhaps this is a beach-side or pool-side read that works better if you engage the grey cells less and are simply content to turn pages .
One of the more disappointing novels I’ve read this year.
I received a digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.